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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript: July 11, 2013

By Dejan Kovacevic
Thursday, July 11, 2013, 1:06 p.m.
 

Dejan Kovacevic: Ugh. Really long night working on a Friday column that I'm fairly certain most of you will hate. To make matters worse, I woke up with the chorus of the thoroughly detestable “Beer For My Horses” cycling through my brain.

Go easy on me ...

Comment From jefft: So Dejan...can the chat officially begin with the speculation of a package deal? Just want to get it off on the right foot. :)

Dejan Kovacevic: Ugh no. Fake trades. Next ...

Comment From Steve Hamrick, Parkersburg, WV: I have waited 20 years for the Pirates to be “contenders” again. Please tell me common sense will provail in maybe boltering the bench and not selling the farm for a rental. All this Stanton, Rios, etc talk is BS and the uneducated fan base is all for it.

Dejan Kovacevic: Neal Huntington could conceivably get a starter for right field and/or first base, one that bumps an existing guy to the bench.

But I'll repeat yet again: Caution when doing so, not only because the team as presently constituted has been pretty good (and resilient and a whole lot of other intangible stuff) but also because Jose Tabata is 11 for 24 since being told to win the right field job and because Garrett Jones tends to get hot this time of year.

Comment From Tiredoflosing: Hi, Dejan. What's the scuttlebutt, is Pirates management content to pretty much stand pat or will they be actively pursuing improvement at the trade deadline? Are they willing to part with legitimate prospects to make it happen?

Dejan Kovacevic: Oh, I think they'll pursue. They've done that the previous two summers, as well. The question is where their sights are set and how aggressive they'll be.

One valuable lesson I think this front office has learned from past mistakes is that, in sports, when you want something, there's more value in landing it than landing it at a favorable price. That was their approach with Russell Martin, which, not coincidentally, has gotten them nice value. To their credit.

If they want a certain type of player, they've got to go get him.

Will that take legit prospects?

Hard to say.

The Nationals just got Scott Hairston, a good bench piece with some pop, for an OK prospect. Not their best.

Comment From Guest: Dejan — I greatly enjoy your work. However, after reading your column about a week ago, in regards to not upsetting the Pirates chemistry, I was a bit surprisd.

Dejan Kovacevic: I'd hope, then, that you could give it another look because I got a similar reaction from a few others until I re-stressed certain points in there about how chemistry shouldn't supersede production.

The point of that column was much more about believing in what's already here — including the chemistry — than about how, oh, no, you can't touch Brandon Inge.

I recreated essentially the same point in this Wednesday's column , as well.

Comment From NotTylerKennedy: Dejan, saw potential blockbuster on ESPN insider that said: Polanco, Mercer, Nick Kingham for CWS Rios and Ramierez...is this the right move? Get to keep Taillon!

Dejan Kovacevic: No, you didn't see a report to that effect. And this is my problem with this stuff. What you saw was someone quoting a completely fake scenario concocted by MLB analyst Jim Bowden. It was hypothetical. He said so. There were no actual talks to that effect.

But that won't keep people from discussing it on end, just as happened with the equally hypothetical Giancarlo Stanton stuff.

Count me out. Enough reality to observe.

Comment From Derek: Do you believe the Steelers will bring in any additional free agents this year? There are still some quality players available, who I feel can be had at a reasonable price.

Dejan Kovacevic: Every impression I got through minicamp and the OTAs was that the team you see is the team you'll get. They've kicked the tires on all the various Ahmad Bradshaw damaged-goods types, which is most of what's left out there, and this is their roster.

On top of that, as we saw from the timing of signing draft picks only after Willie Colon's money had kicked back, I'm pretty sure Kevin Colbert's piggy bank doesn't make a rattling noise anymore.

Comment From Derek: Dejan, what do you think of the Penguins adding Matt D'Agostini? I believe it might be a decent pick up. He is still young and was a previous 20 goal scorer. I think we still need some more speed and youth though.

Dejan Kovacevic: Check Rob Rossi's report today for a lot on the Penguins' third and fourth lines. It's good stuff.

Also, in the past hour, Rossi additionally reported that D'Agostini's contract is a one-way, meaning he counts against the cap and almost surely gives Ray Shero even less in his piggy bank than Colbert.

That tells you they take D'Agostini seriously.

I'm not wild about the third and fourth lines right now. I won't lie. I see some concoction of Brandon Sutter, Craig Adams, Tanner Glass, Jussi Jokinen, Joe Vitale, Dustin Jeffrey and D'Agostini, and it doesn't do much. This team needs actual production from the back lines, as we saw Chicago and Boston get all through the playoffs.

Comment From Tim in KY: Dejan - your journalistic integrity is at stake here: Do you believe the keeper let you get that one PK ?

Dejan Kovacevic: Ha! Honestly, I have no idea. At the time, I didn't think so at all. Felt I struck it pretty well and in a good spot.

Then I came home and looked at the video that ran with the Monday collumn and ... I don't know. Ryan Hulings, the Riverhounds' keeper, did get over there but wasn't able to get a hand on it.

I'd cope either way. That was fun!

Comment From Brian Croasmun: Lambo, T. Sanchez, Presley, Harrison. Who is most likely to contribute in any way down the stretch?

Dejan Kovacevic: If Tony Sanchez gets over those throwing issues to everyone's confidence, it's got to be him. Just got to.

McKenry is hurting the Pirates every time he starts, sad to say, and that can't continue.

Comment From cvillepa: Why would Charlie Morton be considered ahead of Jenmar Gomez as a starter for the Pirates? Maybe it's all in the past but I cringe when Charlie takes the ball. I'm constantly waiting for the wheels to fall off.

Dejan Kovacevic: Plain and simple: Because Gomez can wash windows.

I'm being serious. The person who's good at washing windows, no matter the quality of their other work, always will be asked to wash windows. Gomez can bounce back and forth between starting and middle relief, and he can even close out a game as he did last night.

Managers love that trait. And they know they couldn't get it out of Morton.

Unfair to Gomez?

Oh, well. Should never have picked up the squeegee.

Comment From Guest: Dejan, with the trade deadline three weeks away, what moves do you think the Pirates should make? I think they sould do a trade like this. Trade Jose Tabata to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton and a draft pick.

Dejan Kovacevic: Groan.

Double-groan, actually. You can't trade draft picks in baseball.

Comment From JBGOBUCS: How do you rationalize Pedro's omission from the HR contest by stating its a “skills competition”? How would you describe today's All Star Game? A slight is a slight no matter how trivial.

Dejan Kovacevic: If you can acknowledge that it's trivial, we can at least begin having a rational conversation on the subject.

More in the Friday column.

Comment From Bernard: When do you think Heath will be ready to play at a high level and who makes up for those touches until he returns, another TE or do the Steelers possibly go 4 WRs more often early in the season?

Dejan Kovacevic: Heath Miller spoke with really guarded optimism during OTAs and minicamp, and that leads me to believe you won't see him out there vs. Tennessee. More important, Colbert has stated repeatedly he believes it takes an NFL player close to a full year to recover. Doesn't sound like the Steelers will be in any rush.

You'll get Matt Spaeth and like it.

Comment From SlackBoss: Actually, you can trade competitive balance draft picks, which the Marlins have a good chance at earning this year. That being said, they haven't earned one yet in order to be able to trade it. Just an FYI.

Dejan Kovacevic: Right. That changed in the last labor agreement. There are very, very few of those, but they are in there. I stand corrected.

Comment From Eric: Where is your favorite pregame hangout spot on the north shore?

Dejan Kovacevic: Anywhere Downtown.

Comment From Richard: Awhile back you dedicated an entire column as to why you can't or shouldn't believe in this team. You said you'd rather be under 500 if they were showing “signs”. Please explain why you were wrong.

Dejan Kovacevic: Absolutely, Rich. But first you'll have to find such a column or write it yourself because I never came close to even thinking such a thing, much less putting it into print.

You've got 32 minutes! Go!

Comment From Guest: Paul Chyrst has sure been impressive in the housekeeping administrative duties as Pitt's head coach. Don't know if he will ultimately succeed on the field but he sure is a nice asset to have at the collegiate level where a university's mission is partly to teach young men and women to be better human beings. I wish that would carry the day on long term job security.

Dejan Kovacevic: I love the buttons he's pushed so far. Saw some areas he could upgrade as an in-game coach last fall, but that'll happen. We have to remember he's new at the post. But as far as handling off-field adversity and the like, what he's doing might hurt the Panthers in a short term, but it'll strengthen the integrity with current and future players alike.

In other words, they'll get a whole lot more Aaron Donald, a whole lot less Rushel Shell.

Comment From Bill: Does all the collapse talk end at 81 wins?

Dejan Kovacevic: 81 means nothing. The figure is 82. Has been forever.

And no, I doubt it, based on the reaction we saw here over the past week.

Comment From Dan: Dejan - great chat. What creative ways is Ray Shero going to have to come up with to get the Pens under the cap?

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't think Matt Niskanen will be back. That's about $2 million right there.

Comment From Sam: Dejan, are there any articles you've written where you purchased extra copies as a keepsake?

Dejan Kovacevic: We have print copies available to us at work, but the answer is still no with the sole exception of work done at the Olympics. I've collected those from the three Games I've done. Really, really enjoy doing those, and I like thinking of the work as a single entity.

Comment From SeanAY: Who's the Pirate/Steeler/Penguin that is most likely / best equipped to become a head coach at the highest professional level?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'll go off the board here: Maurkice Pouncey.

Intelligent athlete with great understanding of game, equal passion. Yeah, he's done some dumb things on Twitter but who among us hasn't?

Comment From Ryan: Follow up to Sam's question, if the Pirates win the World Series, would you keep any of that?

Dejan Kovacevic: No. I haven't done it with Super Bowls or Stanley Cup playoffs, either. Just Olympics.

Comment From jefft: Dejan...as the bullpen has been used & abused this season (to good effect, if you could say that), might one of the trades be to bolster said bullpen just to get another arm out there?

Dejan Kovacevic: That could happen. The one area out there you'd want to guard against is one of the two big back-end guys going down, Jason Grilli or Mark Melancon. Even there, though, Tony Watson has been a lot better than most seem to realize in filling in.

Comment From Ryan: I, for one, liked the shorter season in the NHL. It made the games that more important and more entertaining. Would you want to see the season shortened at all? I think hockey in June is a little ridiculous....

Dejan Kovacevic: Totally with you. There was a lot to be said for that 48-game schedule. Too short, obviously. But imagine how even a return to the old 72-game run would make a difference in terms of importance of games, injuries, quality of play, etc.

Forget it, though. Money talks.

Comment From patrick(ri): What are your favorite baseball books(statiscal-summary types excluded)? A stealth question!

Dejan Kovacevic: I have none. All my fiction comes in the form of comic books.

The only baseball book I buy, and this fits your sabremetric category, is the annual Bill James Handbook, which I can't recommend strongly enough. Fantastic, thought-provoking research.

Comment From Newtang: Do you follow or cover tennis at all? Wimbledon, especially the finals was great!

Dejan Kovacevic: There's no high-level tennis to cover in our part of the world, for the most part, but I did watch and appreciate the Andy Murray-Novak Djokovic final, yes. Gritty stuff from both.

It would be presumptuous of me, of course, to suggest the gallant Serb let Murray win on home soil, right?

Comment From Shane: What's worse at PNC park, the wave or the “woos”?

Dejan Kovacevic: The sign.

And on that note, let's do some Tampa Bay Lightning time, now 100 percent Vinny-free ...

Comment From Bill: Is Gerrit Cole on an innings count this year?

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't believe that he is. And if he is, then someone had better explain why the Pirates currently are ruminating sending Cole to the minors over the All-Star break to keep him from having a long stretch without pitching.

Comment From Guest: Can anyone honestly say that Travis Snyder gives the team a better chance of winning than Alex Presley?

Dejan Kovacevic: These debates are fun, including the ones that involve Andrew Lambo and Ivan DeJesus Jr., but a lot of them — including Presley — come with the ramifications of the 40-man roster and options.

Not saying that should be decisive in a contention run, but it's a factor.

Comment From Bernard: Do you thik Haley will make any significant adjustments to his system this season?

Dejan Kovacevic: I really don't. But I do think Todd Haley is going to allow Ben Roethlisberger to go more no-huddle, and I do think he'll have a more viable weapon for all those quick passes in his book if they're open to using LaRod Stephens-Howling. We'll see in Latrobe.

As I see it:

1. Ben sounds happy.

2. Ben must have been told he gets to go no-huddle.

3. Ben likes Todd.

Comment From jefft: Any plans to do any scholastic-level football columns this fall?

Dejan Kovacevic: Our Kevin Gorman does an outstanding, in-depth, fully invested job of those that run every Saturday morning from a game site. Part of a strong team we have at the Trib covering high schools.

But to answer your question, I've done high schools and, as my history has shown, I'll cover pretty much anything. I even did an NBA game once.

Comment From Auggie: Is Brandon Sutter truly a third-line center?

Dejan Kovacevic: I thought so until the playoffs. Now, I'm not so sure.

Still no idea what happened to him. Maybe just ran out of gas.

Comment From Guest: Are the Pirates building a nice identity with the Jolly Roger stuff, black jerseys, etc - sure seems that way?

Dejan Kovacevic: Using the actual nickname has worked quite well for the brand, as well as a lot of other good graphic elements the Pirates' people have created.

I'll credit Greg Brown with that, above anyone. When he started “Raise the Jolly Roger!” it probably rang hollow to most fans, considering he could only say it 57 times a year.

Now, it's taken on a really fun feel.

Comment From Guest: Who do you compare yourself/style to the most on the national scene?

Dejan Kovacevic: I honestly don't do anything of the sort. I'm a Pittsburgher, born and bred, writing for a Pittsburgh audience. That's my job, my passion.

Comment From Alan Gifford: Will you visit the new ballpark in Morgantown WV when the Buccos minor league team moves there

Dejan Kovacevic: Looking forward to it. In fact, it'll be really neat that yet another of the Pirates' affiliates gets even a little closer to home. That's low-A and Double-A Altoona both within an hour's drive.

Dejan Kovacevic: Hey, has that guy ever come back with that column he thinks I wrote but that I actually didn't?

We've only got four minutes! Come on, man, I'm pulling for you!

Comment From Mike: Dejan, love the chats. What would be realistic, in terms of prospects, to give up in order to obtain a couple of nice pieces to help out the Buccos, without “mortgaging the future”. Some fans seem to think that you can't give up any top 5 or top 10 prospects without gutting the system.

Dejan Kovacevic: You only need to look at recent precedent.

The Wandy Rodriguez was the standard trade involving getting a real contributor, where the Pirates sent out two good but not great prospects in Robbie Grossman and Rudy Owens, and asked the other team to take on some salary.

More common is just taking on salary.

For all these debates we have — myself included — about trading Jameson Taillon and prospects at that level for a current major-leaguer, such deals really don't happen that often. Off the top of my head, I can come up with CC Sabathia going from Cleveland for the Brewers' top prospect at the time, Matt LaPorta.

I'm sure there are others, but they aren't common.

Comment From Kevin in Indy: Walker: A non-tender candidate in the offseason?

Dejan Kovacevic: Come on.

Comment From Donna: Out of the whole ‘13 draft class, Which draft prospect do you think will have the best impact for the Steelers?

Dejan Kovacevic: Short term Jarvis Jones, long term Shamarko Thomas. (Safeties last longer than edge rushers!) One more today ...

Comment From Guest: Better MLB career - Marte or Polanco?

Dejan Kovacevic: I've never seen Gregory Polanco take more than a Grapefruit League at-bat, though I'm looking forward to covering him up in the Futures Game this weekend in New York, as well as all the All-Star festivities to follow.

I hear there's a Home Run Derby in there upon which the naming of participants has the fate of the free world hanging in the balance.

Dejan Kovacevic: Tomorrow's column touches on that topic with the softness of a sledgehammer, by the way.

Thanks to all for participating!

 

 
 


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